My job is selling technology. Actually I'm more of a translator. I sell technology to other businesses and that's where things get weird. There is a bewildering array of tech out there and unfortunately many companies think technology sells itself and the value that the technology delivers should be obvious. Wrong. That's where I come in. I said I was a translator. My job is to translate techno babble into value that customers understand. This blog share my adventures with high tech sales. Selling high tech is fun so come join me on my sales journey!

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Social Media ROT

I haven't made my mind up whether Social Media is a waste of time or not.  It is clearly addictive and can consume vast amounts of time if you let it. And there lies the problem.  In business I've learnt you can always make more money but you cant make more time.

What is the Return On Time (ROT) of social media?  I am not a heavy tweeter and I do maybe at most  one or two status posts on LinkedIn per day so I am clearly not addicted as a contributor however there are plenty of  social media "experts" preaching that there fabulous rewards to be had from being on social media.  CrackBook and CrackIn might be as addictive as cocaine from a snooping on people and watching from the side-lines perspective. Having "mother's meetings" and "chatting over the virtual fence" is clearly not going to create business and this is one area where I have to say social media is extremely addictive and unfortunately not a good use of time. Left unchecked I start to feel the overwhelming urge to check LinkedIn for the latest status updates to see what's going on......Being a consumer of information or furtive voyeur is invisible and is not getting your message out there, building awareness/brand and is probably not generating money for you but is consuming your time. It is not generating a Return On your Time.

Anway  the purpose of this post is not to discuss whether social media is addictive but to attempt to say whether it is a useful business tool yielding Return on Time.  Time is money after all

I did a quick search and there is little empirical evidence about the business benefits of social media. As I haven't been able to find much scientific proof I have set out to quantify it myself. The first thing I did was pick a few twitter accounts at random. Here's the results from some random people I picked:

#1   732 tweets - 31 followers.  The tweets weren't just the normal banal "I've just locked the front door" message, they had spent time crafting messages and passing on interesting information.

#2   342 tweets - 71 followers

#3   22,621 tweets - 29,567 followers and following 22,205 people.

#4    30 tweets - 477 followers. Banal brain dead dribble.

OK this is only a sample size of 4 but 732 tweets which have been crafted takes time. Lets say 30 seconds to craft the tweet is 6.1 hours of time and has achieved 31 followers  - crap ROT. The tweets were not rewteeted so no compound exposure.

Someone else has 342 tweets (approx 3 hours) but got 71 followers - better ROT but still not exactly setting the world alight.

Someone has posted 30 brain dead tweets (15 minutes effort) 477 followers - not bad ROT.

Now the person investing serious time. 22,621 tweets @ 30seconds/tweet = 23 working days of tweeting.  OK an audience of nearly 30k is respectable but look at how many he has followed to to get the following.

The language used today to describe social media doesn't really differentiate between information consumption and information creation.  Information consumption is unlikely to create a financial return unless the information has real value. My suspicion is that Mr Pareto is lurking here and 80% of information is pointless crap and it takes effort to filter out the useful 20%.

The learning from this exercise is simply posting good quality messages won't get you heard yet being an information creator or provider is the thing which at least appears to have real business value in social media.  It's yet another opportunity where I can blame Kevin Kostner with his build it and they will come mantra. It doesn't happen in real life.  Broadcasting your message on social media doesn't create an audience.  You have to build the audience in order to get your message out there. It looks like the way to do this is, at least on twitter, is to follow people and they might follow you. That is a good (or at least better) investment of your time.

So does having lots of follower mean your message is reaching people?

If my use of twitter is anything to go by then no. I would guess I am 80% more likely to publish information on twitter than consume it yet the twitter socio-sphere is sending me information which on the surface people might think I am consuming.  Am I unique? I doubt it.  I would therefore guess 80% of my followers do not bother to look at tweets on a daily basis and probably of those 80%, 80% probably don't read my posts because they are hidden amongst the torrent of other posts. In other words only 4 out of 100 followers might, just might,  read my message.

Let's take a look at twitter #3. He is following 22,000 people.....I can't imagine anyone following that many people will be able to process the torrent of crap.  I "follow" a measly 60 people and I can't be bothered to read the torrent of good, bad and crap posts that I get. Maybe I am unique and everyone else is religiously digesting all this twitter torrents?  So Mr #3 has 29,000 followers and maybe 4% of his followers read his post - we are now down to 1,160 people.  Interesting but not exciting. We don't know the demographic of these followers. Maybe they are 100% on target and potential purchasers of the guy's products/services or maybe they followed him because initially he followed them - hardly likely to be on target. Not all eyeballs are equal are they....

Twitter has the competitive mindset that you need lots of followers to have an audience so the name of the game is to get lots of followers.  The real game is to get followers that actually read what you are posting and better still act upon it.

I have observed a similar issue with LinkedIn.  When the number of status posts was limited I did tend to read them as there was a limited number of posts per day and it was a handy digest. My connections are people I know so the status posts are relevant and on-target.  The level of traffic has significantly grown. If I leave it for a few minutes, it shows there are 20+ new updates. Religiously reading all posts for people I know is a burden so the reality is I'm probably looking at maybe 50% of the updates. I am aware that it is now taking me maybe 1 -2 hrs per week to scan through the updates and although it is nice to know what my friends and colleagues are up-to, I have to question whether this time is adding value to my business.  Also the torrent of information has I guess doubled in 1-2 years. If it doubles again am I now going to spend 1-2 hours per day reading it?  Probably not. In fact I want to cut down the time I spend not increase it.

So returning to Return On my Time.  How much business has social media generated for me. I can point to revenues directly related to LinkedIn. I can't say any revenue has been generated from twitter or facebook. Maybe I don't know what I am doing with these platforms and therefore I am doing the wrong things....

LinkedIn  has created business/exposure for me on 2 fronts.  Firstly when I have announced things related to my books, this has resulted in book sales. My measurements suggest that social media (information publishing announcing my product) is far more effective on LinkedIn than advertising via Google. It has yielded around 30 copies of book sales so a modest £30-40 in profit. However the time taken was a few minutes of my time so a good return on time. It is however a one off blip in sales.  My time has not been invested as it does not continue to generate sales on an on-going basis. I believe the  real power of social media lies here - it is not my pseudo advertising that has the impact. On LinkedIn I have about 1020 connections made up on people I know and doing Pareto maybe 30 or 40 people might read my status post and an even smaller percentage (4 to 8 people) will act. The power is not my group but when my 4 to 8 connections 'like' or 'share' my post.  It creates exposure to another group of people. Assuming my connections has 1,000 connections and those connections are different to mine, about 4 of those 2nd degree people will act and maybe buy my book. It is the power of virtual word of mouth. You can see this with those annoying "chain letters" that circulate on LinkedIn - they get thousands of likes.

The second way  I have benefited from LinkedIn is where companies have approach me.  They have searched for someone to provide services and found me through my businesses "CV". Although this is via a social media site, it is not via a status update - it is more like "advertising" and LinkedIn has a convenient search facility. I've invested a lot of time building my contacts so I have a strong profile. This to me feel like investment since everything I do to my profile makes it stronger whereas status posts disappear into the ether - they are a short lived investment.

So I would estimate I am approached for new business about 20-30 times per year via LinkedIn. To get the same kind of enquiry rate from advertising on Google would cost about £2.5k and about £8k on LinkedIn.  The majority of enquiries have not turned into business either because it was not the kind of business I was looking for or vice versa so it is hard to put a revenue line against it yet comparing it with advertising does put a value on what it would cost to buy alternatives. I at least know what my time investment is worth.

So finally returning to my book sales. I find it useful to ask the question when I do something "Why am I doing this?" and then follow it with "Are there alternative ways to achieve the same result?". For book sales investing time on Amazon to achieve good listing and rankings is an investment of my time.  It does not yield a one day blip like social media - the results tend to continue for days, weeks and maybe event months.  The challenge going forward is to find social media "investments" for my time. Simply being there on social media is not effective ROT.

Monday 18 February 2013

Goldilocks, The Three Bears and Sales

We all know the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  You know the story.

"This one is too small"
"This one is too big"
"This one is jusssttt right!!!"

Well you probably didn't know that Goldilocks was in professional sales when she wasn't breaking into houses.

When you are approaching a new prospect how much contact is appropriate?

If you are selling something commodity then the answer is very different than to something highly specialist with a long sales cycle.

Too much contact, too often and you may  start to look like a stalker. You are on their radar as  a problem - they will avoid your calls  and turn into a big grumpy bear.

Too little infrequent contact and any recollection of who you are will fade and like a goldfish, every time you approach your prospect it will be like the film 50 first dates.

Where this level of contact is jusssttt right it is possible to move  the sale forward the build a relationship with the prospect.

This is in the very early stages of the relationship when they don't know who you are, what you want or why they should speak with you.  You may be cold calling them or contacting via email in order to get that critical first conversation going.

Based on my experiences of cold emailing people that I've researched and targetted, I get about 20% of people replying to my first email. It is far easier to get hold of someone's email address than their mobile number.  It can take between 5 minutes and 2 weeks to get a reply from them and I would estimate about 50% of the 20% reply within 3 days. It just shows how much people can get behind in email!

So if I sent 100 emails I get 20 people replying within 2 weeks and 10 of these people I hear from within 5 minutes to 2 weeks however I still have 80 people with no response.

So there needs to be some follow-up with the 80 people. I have after all spent time researching these people so want to give it my best shot to help them. Based on the fact that I still get replies 3 working days later and I still get some stragglers from my first 20%, potentially weeks later,  I leave a 1-2 week gap between sending a follow-up email.  I get similar results from the follow-up email with about15-20 people replying usually within 1day - 1week. So I still have 60 people who haven't responded.  On my third follow-up I might get 2-5 people replying and beyond the third reply I rarely get any more respondents - maybe 1 or 2. On occasions I have done as many as 6 follow-ups and I get some respondents however these people have been politely ignoring me hoping I will go away rather than telling me to sod off. There have been occasions when I've met them and  I have found them to be more confrontational so although persistence is a good thing it has been at the expenses of being viewed as a pest.

This is an area I am still experimenting with.  My experience is from first unsolicited approach via email or my phone call goes to voicemail, then under normal circumstances a gap of 1-2 weeks is acceptable. With voicemail I am more likely to leave the gap as 2-5 days.

If there is a compelling event that I am contacting them about which is important to them then a shorter gap would be appropriate. For example if their factory burnt down and  I can offer a solution to their disaster then every few hours would be an acceptable level of contact to reach the person I need to get hold of.  Leaving a 1-2 week gap will mean their own disaster plans would be in execution and the opportunity would have disappeared.

Leaving long gaps of over 6 weeks seems to be way too long unless there is something like Christmas in between.

I'd love to hear other people's experiences and thoughts on this. I suspect what is appropriate may vary by industry.

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Valentine's Day - Get Romancing Your Sales

In the lead up to Valentine's Day, I have been covering the top 10 tips to Romance Your Sales.

Now it's time to get out there and start Romancing The Sale with your new found Romantic Sales techniques.

To help you I'm giving you the opportunity to download my book "Romancing The Sale" for free for today only. It's available on Amazon Kindle.

If you don't have a Kindle you can still read it as there are Kindle readers available for smart phones, tablets and PCs.

If you would like to read the Romantics Sales tips, click on the posts listed on the right hand-side in the Blog Archive.

If you would like to try before you buy - actually try before you get it for free, you can read the first few sample chapters of Romancing The Sale Sample Chatpers on this blog.

So get out there and start improving the standards of sales by wooing your prospects. Romance Your Sales

Tuesday 12 February 2013

Romantic Sales # 10: I would walk 500 miles

February is the most romantic month of the year. This is the final tip In the lead-up to Valentine's day. We are encouraging you to be romantic with your selling by sharing our Romantic Sales tips.  We've covered our top 10 tips to spice up your sales in time for Valentine's day. Make tomorrow, February 14th,  the day you start Romancing Your Customers.

Tip # 10: I would walk 500 miles
The Proclaimers song I would walk 500 miles isn't exactly a romantic ditty however the lyrics capture the spirit of romance.  They would walk 500 miles to fall down at your door.

Forget going the extra mile. They are prepared to go 500 miles and 500 more!

The fact is there are a lot of suitors for your prospect's affections. To win the sale you need to go the extra mile. And not just once. Maybe 500 times go  the extra mile.

You have to show you are special. Romancing your prospect will mean investing your time, effort, creativity and commitment to woo your prospect.

To win the heart of your prospect they need to believe, like and trust you .

When you approach them, you need to be nice. Not nice in the sense that women use that he is "nice" but not boyfriend material but nice in the sense that you stand out. How many other sales guys simply hit on them without doing the leg work?  By researching them, understanding them and identifying their needs you are already demonstrating you are special and not a typical man - sorry sales guy.  Then if your emails and phone calls are polite, demonstrate that you have put the effort in and not simply hit on them you will stand out.  If you can trigger curiosity then you will really stand-out.

Even after all this you might get blown out on your first approach. Faint heart never won fair maiden. You need to be persistent. There may be no chance of a sale of your product but that shouldn't stop you from romancing this prospect.  You can still send relevant, targeted industry information to them with a personal note on a regular basis afterwards - demonstrating that you are thinking of them and their needs even though there is no hope of you selling your product.

Let's stop for a second and analyse what is going on in the prospects head. They know you will never get a sale of your product.  You graciously acknowledged that they will never buy your product. They now never expect to hear from you again because there's nothing in it for you yet there you are still showering them with gifts.  They will initially think - what an idiot - maybe he didn't understand. Then when you continue to show your affections for them and go the extra mile without any hope of there being anything in it for you they will think you are crazy. Then they will become confused and eventually they will think - what a nice guy! Stupid but nice. Eventually they will think "I believe and trust in this person". OK you may never get an order directly from this person but you have got a friend and a supporter. They may move companies and want to do business with you. The situation in their company may change and you will automatically be in the short-list. Or they may put a good word in for you elsewhere. You have created an intimate trusting relationship.

The point is you willingly give your affections expecting nothing in return.  A gift is a powerful thing.

So let's recap on the last 10 days of Romantic Sales tips

#1 : I'll take care of you
      Adopt a what's in it for your customer approach and show you care
#2:  Listen to your heart
       Ask questions from your customers perspective. Learn what's in their heart
#3:  Attention
       Give 100% of your focus and attention to prospect when you are with them. Make them special
#4: ABC of love
       Stop closing. Start being Casanova. Close by creating natural seductive progress
#5: Gift of love
      Shower your prospects with gifts showing you care
#6: Smile like you mean it
      Smile when meet and when you leave regardless of the outcome
#7: Respect
      Respect your customers views and be curious about differences of opinion. Avoid damaging conflict
#8: Common Ground
     Find out what you have in common. Opposite's attract might work in the movies but not in sales. Show what you have in common and why you are made for each other.
#9 James Bond
     Exude confidence and self belief but not arrogant and egotistical. Women and customers love confidence.

So tomorrow is Valentine's Day.  It's a day where you show your affection to your love one or are brave enough to approach that someone you have admired from afar.  So on this special day get out there and start Romancing Your Sales.  Use your best romantic moves on an established client. Find the courage to approach that prospect that you want to win over and woo them.

And to help you even more on Valentine's Day, you can download Romancing The Sale on Amazon Kindle for free on Valentine's Day.

Monday 11 February 2013

Romantic Sales #9 : James Bond

February is the most romantic month of the year. In the lead-up to Valentine's day we are encouraging you to be romantic with your selling by sharing our Romantic Sales tips.  We'll cover the top 10 tips to spice up your sales in time for Valentine's day. Make February 14th the day you start Romancing Your Customers.

Tip # 9: James Bond
Do you believe in what you are selling?

Confidence is important in sales.  If you appear nervous or unsure of what you are selling then your prospect will be unsure about you.

Do women find James Bond attractive? Sure they do. They love the confidence and self belief that he exudes. Given the choice of the timid guy in the corner or smooth confidence of James Bond, which one will the girl pick?

James Bond doesn't give off a brash, cocky image. He's confident and full of self belief.

You need to work on being confident. Women want to be swept off their feet and customers are kind of the same.  Confidence is attractive.

First impressions count.  People make up their mind about you within 30 seconds. In fact they have probably built an impression of you before they meet in person.  The emails you send, the phone calls you've made to them, all add up to make an impression.  That impression needs to give off confidence.  If you're uncertain of what you are selling then your lack of confidence can be a reason why they might refuse to meet with you and they will certainly "what's in it for me".
Without confidence then your chances of getting that first date are greatly reduced.

James Bond doesn't moan or complain. No matter how bad a journey he has to get to his destination, he always looks immaculate. He might have been chased by an army of ninjas through a city. He had to scramble through holes, drains and other obstacles to reach his destination where he's cool, smooth, seductive, calm, smiling and immaculately dressed. He's probably smiling because he feels smug about dodging all those ninjas. Your commute to your prospects office may have caused you stress but it is nothing in comparison.

So work on your confidence and self belief and you'll be more attractive. Give off that Romantic James Bond impression.

Sunday 10 February 2013

Romantic Sales #8 : Common Ground

February is the most romantic month of the year. In the lead-up to Valentine's day we are encouraging you to be romantic with your selling by sharing our Romantic Sales tips.  We'll cover the top 10 tips to spice up your sales in time for Valentine's day. Make February 14th the day you start Romancing Your Customers.

Tip # 8: Common Ground
In dating they often say opposites attract well in the world of business that is rarely the case. Big companies like to do business with other big companies. It is far more likely businesses do business with companies that have the same values and beliefs.

When you are selling you need to show what you have in common.  When people go out on a first date, a frequently used excuse  not to go on a second date  is "We had nothing in common" - there was no common ground.

Small businesses are viewed as risk by large companies so if you are selling something strategic you need to give the impression of low risk. You need to be viewed as credible.

The Internet has made it easy to research your prospects so it shouldn't be too hard to come up with a list of 3 or 4 values that you know your prospect has.  There might be some clues in the mission statement plastered on their website. OK most mission statements are so generic they could apply to any business but they sometimes have useful information in them.

You can then ask yourself what your offer does to create common ground.   This needs to be genuine common ground. Not something you make up to impress them as that is no better than lying on a first date about yourself - eventually you'll be found out as a fraud. Hardly a good way to built trust and rapport.

Make sure you target the right person otherwise you probably won't have anything in common. For example if you are selling paper-clips and you target the head of manufacturing at a car company, you are off the mark. OK this is a silly example but I have seen people target the wrong people and wonder why they get blown out.

By showing the common ground you can build trust. The chances are if you've done your homework on your prospect you will have lots in common to talk about. If you are from the same industry then LinkedIn will show you people you know that they know.  Dating friends of friends is a concept that has been around for a long time.

I sell specialist stuff so I target people that I know will understand what I am selling. By being on-target I already have common ground. I also try to anticipate what problems they might be experiencing and can agree with their problem - talk about the symptoms they have and build a common ground. I can then show them a solution when the time is right.

Find the common ground.

Romantic Sales #7: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

February is the most romantic month of the year. In the lead-up to Valentine's day we are encouraging you to be romantic with your selling by sharing our Romantic Sales tips.  We'll cover the top 10 tips to spice up your sales in time for Valentine's day. Make February 14th the day you start Romancing Your Customers.

Tip # 7: Respect
Aretha Franklin's classic song Respect isn't a love song, yet the need for respect is important in a sales relationship.

In complex sales it is important to build a trusted relationship. That doesn't mean being a lap dog and saying yes to everything the prospect wants but it does mean respecting their views and not forcing your views upon them.  

The chances are the thing you are selling is not 100% what they want.  In a relationship no-one is perfect either. So there is some need for compromise. For a successful marriage  both sides will have to make some changes in order to build a successful relationship.  As you are the seller, you are more likely to accept a higher  level of compromise than the customer. Here it is important to know when to walk away - don't sell yourself short or allow yourself to be changed so you are no longer you.

In highly complex leading edge technology sales, it is common for the seller to have deep technical knowledge that the customer often needs to understand to feel comfortable with the purchase decision. Lack of understanding is seen as a risk and unfortunately the devil can be in the detail. 

This is however a danger area where "religious" arguments about the technical approach can be brewing. The customer will have a different perspective and often a knowledge of the product from a different dimension.  The seller will know "how the product works" whilst the customer will know "how to use the product". The challenge is to have a technical discussion to bring both sides together and exploit those different view-points.  I've seen these differences of perspectives leading to a damaging argument where the customer is told they are wrong. Here respect for the customer's  knowledge and an openness to learn from their perspective would have created a win-win situation rather than making the customer feel like their nose has been put out of joint.

By respecting the views of the customer and when the customer makes an unexpected comment which on the surface seems to be wrong, it is far more powerful to be curious and ask "that's an interesting point you've just made. I've got something different in mind. Can you help me understand your point."

By showing respect, you will avoid damaging conflict. When there is an argument or conflict, you trigger the customers reptilian brain (I call him Croco Mojo) into a  fight or flight mode. Emotions are invoked and powerful chemicals released which destroy any logical thought process. When that happens say goodbye to your sale.

So show R-E-S-P-E-C-T !

Saturday 9 February 2013

Romantic Sales #6: Smile Like You Meant It

February is the most romantic month of the year. In the lead-up to Valentine's day we are encouraging you to be romantic with your selling by sharing our Romantic Sales tips.  We'll cover the top 10 tips to spice up your sales in time for Valentine's day. Make February 14th the day you start Romancing Your Customers.

Tip # 6: Smile Like You Mean It
OK The fabulous Killer's track "Smile Like You Mean It"  isn't the most romantic of songs but it does talk about an important Romantic Sales skill - smiling.

Let's go back to dating.  Were you attracted to that miserable looking girl in the corner or the bubbly smiling one?  The miserable one can be vastly better looking but I'd opt for the  happy smiling girl any day.

First impressions count and first impressions last.  Make a point of smiling when you first meet someone.

Most people don't like hanging around with miserable people. Miserable and sad people usually have problems and you might feel suicidal after hanging around with them.  Morrisey and The Smith's have had their day...

So when you are selling,  learn to smile and smile like you mean it.  Smiling disarms people and establishes trust.  It doesn't mean you act like a grinning idiot or a fake smile used car salesman.  Smiling says you have confidence.  It says you are a positive person and you are fun to be with.

When you arrive at your prospect's place, smile.  When you leave, regardless of the outcome of the meeting, leave with a smile. Even if you are walking out having lost the order, leave with a smile. It's OK to be disappointed but showing humility at graciously losing the sale and thanking them for the chance to win their business will be something they will remember - it is a rare thing in today's world.  There will be other opportunities to win their business or deal with that person and you will be remembered on a positive note.

You may have forgotten how to smile.  I mean really smile. Practice each day smiling in the mirror if you have forgotten how to smile.

So smile like you mean it.

Thursday 7 February 2013

Romantic Sales #5: Gift of Love

February is the most romantic month of the year. In the lead-up to Valentine's day we are encouraging you to be romantic with your selling by sharing our Romantic Sales tips.  We'll cover the top 10 tips to spice up your sales in time for Valentine's day. Make February 14th the day you start Romancing Your Customers.

Tip # 5: Gift of love
Bette Midler's gift of Love isn't a great love song classic but it has the right message for today's Romantic Sales tip.

When you go on date with a girl you might buy her some flowers, chocolates or something similar.

When you give someone something, the receiver feels an obligation, even if it is a small obligation,  to give something back to you. A gift is a symbol of extending trust.

Sales has developed a selfish reputation.  The buyer subliminally expects to have to surrender their cash to get something and the sales guy is only there for the money.  I've even been on the receiving end of sales guys that wouldn't do anything unless they got an order. That's kind of like adopting the attitude with your girlfriend that you won't do anything she wants unless she lets you have sex. Hardly romantic.

OK you don't need to buy your prospects flowers and chocolates but you can give them gifts. So what kind of gifts could you give them?  Maybe putting a cutting of an important article, relevant to their business,  in the post with a hand written post-it note might be a suitable gift  (not an article self promoting your company though) - this shows you care and are thinking about them.  If you know the personal interests of your prospect maybe an email passing on congratulations when the team they supports has a good win could be a nice message. If you are more familiar with them then sending a joke via email could be a nice gift - make sure the joke however is not one that could cause offence.

These small "gifts" show that you care and build that all important relationship however they need to be given expecting nothing in return.

Running short conferences, webinars are also useful tools.  Don't make these too sales oriented - deliver relevant information that people would like to know.  If it is all about your product then it is not a gift. As a rule of thumb 80% of the content needs to be non specific to you and your business. Lucas Vigilante and Kent Rhodes runs an ActionCoach business coaching service for the Essex, UK area. They run half day free workshops and provide really useful advice about how to improve profitability. Lucas makes a big joke during the event when he switches to sales mode which gets a laugh. I've booked up to go to the same event a second time because I think the conference is great and they are fantastic no obligation gifts. I even drag other people along.  Not only do they give anyway this great gift, they give away yet more gifts as fun competitions during the event such as copies of books. 

If you are mentally tallying up all the free gifts you've given then you are storing up problems.  The gifts should be given freely and not create an implied obligation.  A subliminal obligation is fine since ultimately you want your prospect to fall in love with your company and shower you with orders! But if nothing ever comes of your gifts then do not become disappointed. Returning to Lucas and Kent - there's no heavy pressure to buy, sure they remind me they are out there and would love to do business but it's never with a tally card. 10 out of 10 for romance guys!

If you fancy attending their next event on Feb 15th (the day after Valentine's day when you will be out there selling Romantically), details can be found here:

So get romantic and find ways you can give your prospects gifts. It doesn't need to be expensive meals or corporate hospitality.   If your company has branded merchandise, give it freely to anyone that would like it even if they are not potential customers - it creates goodwill.  I've given simple things like stickers and pens away to people that will never order anything from me. These people however are connected to people that could be potential customers - they might put a good word in for me. I haven't asked them to put a good word in for me - that would be an obligation to "sell me" in return for the bribery of  me giving them gifts.  I don't want to bribe anyone - they need to be put a good word in for me willingly and without forced obligation. 

So start giving your gifts freely and with love.

Wednesday 6 February 2013

Romantic Sales #4: ABC of love

February is the most romantic month of the year. In the lead-up to Valentine's day we are encouraging you to be romantic with your selling by sharing our Romantic Sales tips.  We'll cover the top 10 tips to spice up your sales in time for Valentine's day. Make February 14th the day you start Romancing Your Customers.

Tip # 4: ABC of love
This isn't about that 1980's classic song The Look of Love by ABC but about closing.

ABC = Always Be Closing

Closing is not Romantic. ABC should be 

ABC = Always Be Casanova

So why isn't Closing Romantic?  It works in transactional sales where the likelihood of the sale falling away after the first date drops off a staggering 80%.  The same applies to the world of dating - you need to be Closing all the time when you are out on the pull if you are operating on a one night stand policy. 

Complex sales are rarely ever closed on a first date - the buyer needs to be slowly seduced into a sale, building lust and desire for your product. It may take 5 or more dates for love to blossom.

Closing is like asking for sex.  If you went on a first date and and kept asking for sex you would turn your prospect off and blow your chances of a second date.  

If you are a little more sophisticated, you might save the close for the end of the night and ask in your best seductive voice "Would you like to come back to mine for a coffee?".

Closing creates pressure to make a decision. If the buyer isn't in the mood then applying pressure will invoke either a fight or flight mechanism.  Your desirable prospect will either secumb, put up barriers to your advances or run for the hills.

Recall a torrid romance you've had.  You didn't need to close to jump into the sack - a  look was often enough without a word spoken to be tearing each others clothes off. I'm sure Casanova didn't "always close" to achieve his conquests.  He romanced his customers into a sale where 
it seemed the most natural thing to do.

So this Valentine's day stop closing and start being Casanova.

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Romantic Sales#3: Attention

February is the most romantic month of the year. In the lead-up to Valentine's day we are encouraging you to be romantic with your selling by sharing our Romantic Sales tips.  We'll cover the top 10 tips to spice up your sales in time for Valentine's day. Make February 14th the day you start Romancing Your Customers.

Tip # 3: Attention
Our first two tips were Care and Listen

Our 3rd tip is Attention.  Give someone your un-divided Attention. When you Listen to them really focus in on what they are saying - give them your attention.  In today's noisy world, the most valuable thing you can give someone is your attention. Attention has become  a scarce thing.

Your goal is for your customers to love you and that means you need to given them your attention to make them feel special.

Avoid the temptation to make notes of the conversation with your iPad - it can seem like you are busy doing your emails rather than listening to them.  If you make notes about some trivial remark you may inadvertently make yourself look stupid. If they say something ground-breaking or unexpected, that would be the time to gasp, look shocked or make a note.

Eye contact is an important part of giving someone your attention. Different people have different levels of comfort over the level of eye contact so pay attention to what is acceptable on your first sales date.

The reptilian brain has been around for hundreds of millions of years and you may have noticed reptiles don't say much.  Humans are thought to have learnt how to speak a few hundred thousand years ago so the brain relies more on body language, sounds (tone of delivery) than the actual words you say.  The words you use are thought to account for less than 7% of the communication.  Body language is important.  

What message about how "attentive you are" does your body language give?

If you look like you want to escape from your prospect or grab their wallet, you will be subliminally giving the wrong message to your wannabe sales bride.  The message you want to give off is that you are comfortable with yourself and them, you are not in a hurry and willing to give them lots of your time but respecting that they may be willing to only give you a few minutes of their time. Make those minutes count. 

Smiling and nodding are important body cues to confirm your level of attention.

Body mirroring also re-enforces attention. Don't fake body mirroring - it will not appear natural and will build distrust destroying the goal of giving the prospect your un-divided attention.

In summary. Show you care. Listen attentively.

Monday 4 February 2013

Romantic Sales #2: Listen to your heart

February is the most romantic month of the year. In the lead-up to Valentine's day we are encouraging you to be romantic with your selling by sharing our Romantic Sales tips.  We'll cover the top 10 tips to spice up your sales in time for Valentine's day. Make February 14th the day you start Romancing Your Customers.

Tip # 2: Listen to your heart
When you are infatuated with someone you may want to hear everything about them however in those early stages of a relationship, only talking about yourself can make you seem very boring and a turn-off.

When you listen to someone and ask questions about them, you are perceived as being interesting despite the fact you rarely speak or say anything about yourself.

So what is your selling style?  

Do you jump straight to your life story....."Our company was formed in 1982. Our founder had the vision to create the most boring waffle to make our prospects brain dead by telling them everything our company has ever done. In 1983 we had a new product idea that used the XYZ chip from MegaChip. The engineers were so excited about the chip - we built a very fast product that could go from zero to 250 Oogaflops in 1 second. We loved it and it had an amazing 2 elephant of RAM....."

Most people are simply not interested. Especially on a first sales date. 

This is an opportunity for you to ask questions about them and understand what is important to them.

Questions are your friend since they have to do the talking when you ask them.

Remember you have 2 ears and 1 mouth - use them in that ratio.

By listening attentively you can find out about their company, their needs and be perceived as interesting too. By listening you will be seen as more attractive - and it works in sales too!

Listening is not a easy skill.  When they are talking, it is not an opportunity for you to spend time formulating your next question or to plan what you are going to say next. Listen to what they are saying. Maybe take notes of questions that might come into your head  whilst they are speaking.

Be interesting and different by listening rather than switching to the "Telling" sales pitch

Sunday 3 February 2013

Romantic Sales #1: I'll Take Care of You

February is the most romantic month of the year. In the lead-up to Valentine's day we are encouraging you to be romantic with your selling by sharing our Romantic Sales tips.  We'll cover the top 10 tips to spice up your sales in time for Valentine's day. Make February 14th the day you start Romancing Your Customers.

Tip # 1: I'll Take Care of You
Would you love someone that didn't care about you?

What's the purpose of Valentine's day?.....It's to show you care.

To make your selling techniques stand-out, show your customers and prospects that you care about them.  Think of selling as making them fall in love with you.  Your goal is therefore to make your customers fall in love with you and a simple yet powerful way to do this is to show them that you care.

If someone only cares about themselves, they are selfish and yet this is the way most sales people approach sales. The sales person wants the sale and rarely stops to think about the needs and wants of their customer. They are selfish and don't care. By caring about your customer's problems and challenges you will be more successful in sales.

Caring is have an honest sincere interest in them and the issues they face.  If you simply going through the motions and pretending to care in order to get the sale then you don't really care.

Show you care with integrity.